about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

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    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

    Marathon - 3:50:58

    A Look Back.



A House is Not a Home.

In my 30 years, I have lived in a lot of different places.  But I spent the first 17 years of my life under one roof of a house that I absolutely loved.  As we grew up, and days and years went by, my mom worked hard to constantly make our house the best home it could possibly be – pretty wallpaper, sentimental furnishings, warm paint colors, a family room addition.  It was big and spacious, had gorgeous natural woodwork, a backyard fantasy land built just for us kids, and housed all my favorite childhood memories.  Our house was a true labor of love. 

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I was 15 when my parents got divorced, and our house suddenly became a place of worry and uncertainty.  My dad left, my older sister went to college, and suddenly the big house that was once so full of love, suddenly felt very empty and hollow.  In the year that followed, our lives and lifestyle changed dramatically.  My mom did everything in her power to keep our world familiar and safe, and through it all, I clung hard to the one thing that felt consistent to me – our house.

With Rebecca away at college, and Sarah still just a toddler, there was a new team running the house – me and mom.  We were an unstoppable force together, and through those tough years we shared just as many laughs as we did tears.  But after a year of struggling and working around the clock together, we faced the reality of what would inevitably need to happen.  We had to sell our house. 

Through a little soul searching, I have realized somewhat recently that being separated from my childhood home provoked a strong emotional reaction, causing a lot of mistrust and anxiety that has followed me into my adulthood.  Only 17 at the time of our move, I clung to that house as if it was the last bit of “family” that I felt I had left.  I can still vividly remember the day the papers were signed, sitting on the back porch crying so hard I could barely breathe. 

The next house I would live in is the house that my mom still has today.  It is the house where I learned to let go of the past, and redefined my understanding of love and of the word family.  Looking back, I realize that ever since my first move, I have always had deep emotional connections to the places where I live.

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When Casey and I left the first house we lived in together, I was so happy to be moving into our next (much nicer) home.  But at the same time, I had a really hard time physically leaving the house for the last time.  I stood in the dining room where Casey had proposed to me earlier that year, feeling like by leaving the house I was leaving that memory behind.  Of course that wasn’t true, but it was hard to walk away from a moment that was so special to me.

Our second house in Cincinnati still holds a very special place in my heart.  It was the kitchen where I taught myself to cook, and eventually where I decided to take the leap and go to culinary school.  (I still miss that kitchen!)

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That same house was our home on our wedding day, when I gathered with my best girlfriends, sisters, and mom – and put my wedding dress on in our upstairs bedroom. 

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I cried when we left that house too, sad to leave behind all the memories of wonderful times and personal growth had under that roof.

Our current house has been my favorite.  It is where we picked out our first set of real grown up furniture piece by piece…

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And where it still seems like yesterday that I stood by the side of the bed whispering to Casey in the dark, “wake up, I think I’m pregnant!”

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But as much as I have loved the places I have lived, my hope is that when we leave our current house, I won’t cry and long for what I’m leaving behind, but instead treasure the memories and know that I am taking them with me.

And I will look forward to NEW firsts – the house where we will bring a baby home, the kitchen where I will learn to make baby food, and the couch that we will snuggle on together in all our new found free time!

For some reason in my 17 year old mind, losing my childhood home made me feel like the last piece of my family was being taken away from me.  Many homes and states later, I have clung to that pain and feeling of loss with each and every move.

I finally came to this realization when I was dealing with intense crippling fear regarding our move to Seattle.  What was I so afraid of?  Why was I clinging to our current home so fiercely?  And then memories of being 17, crying on my back porch, and feeling that first loss all came flooding back to me.

It took me until age 30 to finally understand that a house is really just a house.  But a home is family, love, and memories – and that is something that, no matter the distance, you never leave behind.

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198 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Kristina     at 3:19 pm

Emily, I totally feel you. I am incredibly nostalgic and I even got weepy moving out of my freshman dorm. Right now I’m preparing to move out of my apartment (the first and only place I’ve ever lived that was really *my* place) and into a condo with my fiancee, but I feel so guilty because even though I’m excited for us to start our new life together I can’t help feeling sad about leaving the place I’ve learned to call home.

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sueP     at 3:31 pm

Well, no fair making an old(er) lady cry at work.

Beautifully said, Emily.

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Debbie     at 4:23 pm

This post is just what I needed. I am considering selling the first house I bought by myself after getting divorced. I knew it wouldn’t be forever and I love the new house but it’s so hard to leave this behind. Thanks for sharing. Glad to know I’m not alone.

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Melanie @ Trial By Trail     at 5:18 pm

What a beautiful post Emily! I can definitely understand how you felt about your childhood home. You are a fantastic writer and brought those emotions back so strongly for me. :) You were joking when you said “new found free time” though right? Babies tend to take that away from you. :-)

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Nicole @ Making Good Choices     at 8:25 pm

I can relate to so much of what you wrote, especially leaving the house you grew up in. I can remember sitting in the car in the driveway of my house after my parents got divorced and just crying that day we moved. I had so many memories in that house and still drive by it sometimes. But you are right, a house is just a house and you bring with you the memories and love you had in each place. Beautifully written post.

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Kristen, Sweetly     at 9:59 pm

I went away to school, and couldn’t have been happier. And I can’t wait to get my first apartment all on my own… But my house will always be my house, and I can’t imagine far down the line when it might end up not being anymore! My mom’s dad built the house, and it’s going to keep getting passed down. But I understand that situations could very well change for all of us. It’s crazy to think about, so I totally understand. It is amazing that you realized you could separate the house from the home-feelings! :-) I hope we can all do that.

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Heather     at 1:04 am

What a beautiful post and reflection. Inspiring, too. Cheers to the realization and your decision to move forward to this next step and enjoying the journey! HUG.

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maya @ finding balance in tokyo     at 3:19 am

Thank you so much for posting this. I understand what you mean and how you feel completely. I have never dealt well with change, and I have always invested too much emotional meaning to physical objects.

Moving from place to place and leaving such memory-filled places behind, or even something as simple as breaking a favorite glass, trigger huge emotional responses from me. Like you I understand that the objects themselves don’t mean as much as the memories, and every change is an opportunity for something new and better, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to leave a place without tears.

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Amy     at 7:32 am

I love that line! so true… posting it as my fb status (with credit of course!) no miles can separate those that are in your heart!

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grandma Diane     at 10:24 am

EM, you need to talk to Aunt Toby. She has had to move so many times during her marriage and Kroger. Always has been left to sell the house on her own while Kev went on to his new job several weeks before. I’m sure she has some insight into your situation.
Grandma Diane.

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Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com     at 10:39 am

Such a beautiful post. So much heart. Your insight is inspiring and raw. I loved reading

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Monica     at 12:27 pm

Great post, and oh so true! I struggle with many of these same feelings. My parents divorced when I was seventeen and I think it forever altered my comfort and issues with “homesickness”. It was hard to have the feeling of home challenged and I have had to reach a place in life where home is really wherever my husband is, not the physical structure of which I live in.

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Catherine     at 11:25 am

This post really resonantes with me, and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a deep, personal part of your life with us. My parents sold my childhood home when I was 19 and living out of the country, and I didn’t have the chance to “say goodbye” to it. Now, any moves relating to my family members or me are quite difficult. While I still mourn the house and the loss of connection to my hometown, I too, am learning to make new spaces “home” – where the family is.

Thank you. This was beautiful. Best of luck with your move.

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Cati @ crave and create     at 4:02 pm

Thank you for this post, Emily. I will soon be changing to a new career, and will need to move from my home because I will no longer be able to afford it. I’ve been experiencing many of the same emotions you described, and your post was exactly what I needed to read to help me understand that it is what I do that transforms a house into a home.

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Haley     at 9:20 pm

I absolutely love this post. So beautiful…just like you :-)

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Michaela     at 5:08 pm

What a wonderful post! I am in a similar situation myself and your post helps me understand what I already know, yet at the same time, do not want to accept.
I spend the last couple of hours reading your posts, you are such a sweet person and a true inspiration!
Thank you so much, Emily!

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Lara     at 7:40 pm

Oh my goodness–I can relate to this so much. I too get SO attached to the places I live. I think it is because I grew up living in the same house (like you), until my later teen years, when my parents divorced. My dad is still in the house I grew up in (thank goodness, I will bawl if he ever leaves), but my mom has moved twice. I have lived in about 8 different places since moving out when I was 18 to go to college. I am attached to every single one of them.
Have you heard Miranda Lambert’s song “The House That Built Me”? That is what this post reminds me of :)

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